Daniel Polikoff, a wonderful scholar on Rilke, teaches a monthly workshop organized by Rose Black, an enthusiastic lover of Rilke. Both Daniel and Rose are amazing poets in their own right. The workshop this year is titled "Soul of the Word," so, perhaps that gives you an idea of the content. We are working with recognizing, honoring and integrating spirit, soul, and body.
I am appalled at my ignorance of religion, and, yet, how, despite my ignorance, I have been influenced by it. How pervasive is what comes down to us, even though it relates, as we know, to nothing of Christ, and, to little of what came before.
One thing, we focused on today was the execution of a man in a country that is professing Christian values. What happened to the Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." The commandments are clear, and not difficult to honor. "Thou shalt not kill." The hypocrisy astounds.
I learned today that Advent colors are solemn colors. Advent was a time for retreat, a mini-Lent, a time to introspect on the ending of the year. Then, there was the bursting forth into Christmas, twelve days of Christmas, as the celebration continued for 12 days, until the Epiphany. No wonder we feel jarred with all this light and carrying on, right now when we are meant to go within, and reflect. With artificial lights, we cannot see the stars.
Daniel spoke of only using candlelight for meals this time of year. That, I intend to do. That way I can better appreciate and honor this gift of darkness. In the winter in Norway, all is candlelight. I honor my Norwegian grandmother with candlelight now.
He also spoke of Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday, and the Resurrection on Sunday. Saturday was the descent to the Underworld, to the Mother. No wonder we struggle so in this society with visiting the Underworld, with looking at our shadow. Religion took away a major part of the myth, the part where we go deeply within, to the earth of our own matter, so we can then return fruit to the light.
Also, it seems that regarding Mother Mary that "Immaculate Conception" means pure soul. The Bible is not espousing a virgin birth. All of this comes about because we were discussing one of Rilke's lesser read works, "The Young Workman's Letter." It is quite something to read. I recommend it. I apologize for decimating it, by pulling out a few segments to intice you inside.
Here is a paragragh with five metaphors. See how easily Rilke carries us through the use of metaphor.
"I cannot conceive that the cross should remain, which was, after all, only a cross-roads. It certainly should not be stamped on us on all occasions like a brand-mark. For it is the situation not this: he intended simply to provide the loftier tree, on which we could ripen better. He, on the cross, is this new tree in God, and we were to be warm, happy fruit, at the top of it."
I search through for something else to share but it seems blasphemy to pull it apart. Rilke forsees. He leads.
Eat by candlelight tonight!